Climate Change Action in Connecticut: Linking Energy, the Environment and the Economy

By Farrell, Paul E. | UCLA Journal of Environmental Law & Policy, Winter 2009 | Go to article overview

Climate Change Action in Connecticut: Linking Energy, the Environment and the Economy


Farrell, Paul E., UCLA Journal of Environmental Law & Policy


  I. INTRODUCTION

 II. BACKGROUND

III. CONNECTICUT'S SUCCESS WITH THE REGIONAL
     GREENHOUSE GAS INITIATIVE (RGGI).
     A. RGGI Is Different From Other Environmental
        Programs
     B. RGGI Sector Expansion
     C. Challenges and Opportunities

 IV. KEY CLIMATE INITIATIVES IN CONNECTICUT
     A. Clean Cars
     B. Clean Car Labeling
     C. Green Buildings
     D. State Government "Leading by Example".
     E. Climate Change Adaptation

  V. CONCLUSION

I. INTRODUCTION

The State of Connecticut is fortunate to have in place forward-thinking leadership that sees the dramatic environmental and economic risks associated with ignoring climate change and the opportunity associated with meeting climate goals by moving the state's economy in a direction that supports green technology, green jobs and a vibrant sustainable environment that produces the quality of life envisioned by all who live, work and play in New England.

Over the past eight years, Connecticut and other leadership states have put this type of commitment into action and to lead climate policy development in the United States. The states have produced dynamic plans and programs to begin to address climate change while the federal government has been less than helpful and, at times, even obstructionist. As a result, our nation today stands at a crossroad, with the international community clearly waiting for a more comprehensive and unified approach from our country, one of the largest emitters of greenhouse gases (GHGs) on our Earth. The federal government now seems poised to act and understands, just as do the states, we will need to adopt a suite of policies and programs that transcends the jurisdiction of any single government agency if we are to reduce GHG emissions to levels that sound science tells us are necessary to avert the most devastating impacts associated with global climate change.

Even though state action on climate is couched in terms of each state's own economic self-interest, states certainly understand the larger ramifications associated with a dramatically altered climate. While state action is prefaced in terms of protecting coastlines, agriculture, infrastructure and local habitat and biodiversity, we also understand that climate change brings serious threats to our national security from governments that will be destabilized by the reasonably foreseeable effects of dangerous climate change. These effects include increased drought in areas that already suffer from unstable food supply systems and sea level rise that could displace tens of millions of people.

Against this backdrop, states have followed the bumper sticker slogan, "think globally, act locally" ... and regionally.

II. BACKGROUND

Connecticut's leadership role on climate issues traces its roots to ongoing communication and dialogue with our sister New England states and the eastern Canadian provinces. We have a long history of working together to address and resolve common environmental issues. Starting in the 1980s, the New England governors (NEG) and eastern Canadian premiers (ECP) recognized the harmful effects of acid rain on the region's forests and the negative impact on its economy. The NEG/ECP passed a joint resolution calling for the elimination of emissions contributing to those effects. As a result, states and provinces acted to reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and sulfur oxides (SOx). Those steps later served as a model for regional and federal action.

In 2000, the NEG/ECP, citing findings in the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Third Assessment Report, commenced regional discussions on global warming and its environmental impact. A March 2001 NEG/ ECP workshop on the science and impacts of climate change provided a framework for a climate change action plan. In August 2001, the NEG/ECP signed the Climate Change Action Plan 2001.

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